Organ donors give the greatest gift of all: Guest commentary

The Sun Columns | Thomas D. Mone

Becky Culver works on the floragraph image of her husband Jody Culver with her granddaughter Ky Walker, of Glendora, for the Donate Life Rose Parade float Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 at Phoenix Decorating Rosemont Pavilion in Pasadena. Ninety-six people benefited from Culver's donation after he passed away in 2008. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Thanks to a heroic organ donor, Mason Sommers got to marry the love of his life. He survived his first cardiac arrest at 16. A few years later, after suffering a second cardiac arrest, it was discovered he had a heart defect. With medication, Mason was able to manage his condition for 30 years, until age 50 when he was put on a pacemaker and slowly began to suffer from progressive heart failure. In the fall of 2009 he was told he needed a new heart. After months on the waiting list, a donor match was found and he received the transplant necessary to save his life. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court approved marriage equality. “I lived to see the day,” Sommers told me. A few months later, he could finally exchange vows with his partner of 19 years.

Many things have to go right for any one of the more than 122,000 people on the national transplant waiting list to receive the needed donation of a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung or intestine. On average, 22 patients in need of transplants die each day. There is only one way to change the odds: more donors. Continue reading